I’m sure most of you clicked on this link, expecting me to say something about our dog. While it is true that our now 10-month old puppy has many, many things left to learn – not the least of which is that electrical cords are not chew toys!! – the “old dog” to whom I am referring is actually me! (Note to my brother: Don’t EVER attempt to call me an old dog!).
Towards the end of the summer, I found myself eating lunch with my son after his power skating camp. We were sitting adjacent to the ice and noticed that a woman was taking a private figure skating lesson. At some point during our lunch, my son asked me “why is that old woman taking skating lessons?” Needless to say, I scolded him and corrected him for the “old woman” comment (if for no other reason than the fact that she was about my age!). But I then went on to explain that skating lessons aren’t only for little kids. “It’s never too late to try something new”, I said. I tried to convey that it was pretty amazing, but I’m not sure that my son bought it!
It has been a couple of months since that lunch, but the conversation has stuck with me. I was reminded of something that I read in Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic fame) blog: “if you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet”. She talked about the advice that her 73-year old mother had given her – that you should seize as much life and joy and adventure and learning and novelty as you possibly can, regardless of age. Elizabeth’s mother had issued a gentle warning not to fall into the trap of letting your life get smaller as you get older.
This conversation with my son was a bit of a wake-up call. I have to admit, I am often guilty of falling into old patterns. There is comfort in the familiar. I tend to do the same cardio workouts – running and spinning; as a family, we visit the same restaurants over and over; and I even take the same route most days when walking the dog.
Something I know to be true of myself, at least from a professional standpoint, is that my greatest learning and development has always come when I have stretched myself and gone outside of my comfort zone. I have to believe that this would hold true in other areas of my life. And yet, it feels that I have let go of many of the aspirations that I once had. For instance, I used to think about getting my private pilot’s license, taking a photography course, running a marathon, becoming a spinning instructor, relearning French… the list is long. I’m not sure that all of these aspirations still hold true today, but I do know that I want to live a big and full life. And I think it is virtually impossible to do so without plunging into the unknown and daring to take on new challenges. So that is exactly what I am going to do. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson